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Cardinal Gerhard Müller.Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews

ROME, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — German cardinal Gerhard Müller has warned against “global players who are against the Catholic Church because the Catholic Church is pro-life, pro-family, and for religious freedom.”

Talking to EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on Thursday, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said certain powers “want to instrumentalize this situation” of the coronavirus pandemic “to suppress the Catholic Church.”

“The security for your life is not the only value,” he said. “We have also spiritual values. We cannot isolate totally all the population. We have other illnesses and other dangers in our life, and we cannot absolutely remain in our home.”

“We cannot restrict the human existence, also in a materialistic interpretation, as if we are able to construct a paradise on Earth,” Müller cautioned.

“The state as such cannot say, ‘We forbid worshiping,’” he said. “We have the fundamental religious rights, human rights, and the state must respect these rights of everybody.”

The former bishop of Regensburg in Germany pointed out the contradiction between, on the one hand, saying that churches need to be closed but, on the other hand, grocery stores being allowed to remain open for business.

He asked, “Why is the danger in the church bigger than in the supermarket?”

Beyond prohibiting public Masses, “nobody has the right to forbid the priests, the shepherds, to visit the people who are dying or very ill.” As Müller explained, faithful Catholics have the right to “pastoral care in these cases.”

Müller talked to Arroyo about the appeal “for the Church and the world,” which Müller had signed, together with two other cardinals and many other Catholics, in early May.

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The text, which had been drafted by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, had come under severe criticism, especially in Germany, for allegedly peddling conspiracy theories regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it by public authorities.

The president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, had said his organization “does in principle not comment on appeals by individual bishops outside Germany.”

Nevertheless, he commented that “the assessment of the coronavirus pandemic by the German Bishops’ Conference is fundamentally different from the appeal published yesterday.”

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, who succeeded Müller as bishop of Regensburg, said only that he was “adopting as his own” the statement by Bätzing.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst tweeted, “As bishop of the [Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart] I strongly dissociate myself from the dangerous theories of the group around Archbishop Viganò. Whoever reinterprets the efforts of politics to protect human life from the [coronavirus] into a dubious world conspiracy is playing with fire!”

Cardinal Müller explained that Viganò had asked him to sign the letter during a phone conversation. “I said I will support him to overcome the isolation, all the tensions between the Vatican and him,” he pointed out.

The bishops who signed the Viganò appeal, Müller continued, cannot say anything about the medical issues of COVID-19, “but we have to speak against the instrumentalization of this virus, of this big world crisis, global crisis, by some dictatorial states or by other ideological groups which want to take the opportunity to suppress the Church and make a breakdown of the sacramental life of the Church.”

The main task after this breakdown, according to Müller, will be evangelization and “to give people the hope that also in cases of our diseases and of our death, of our short life and all the accidents that are in this world, we have a wider horizon.”

Asked about the main mission of the Church, Müller responded, “We are cooperating with secular institutions for social justice and peace and ecology, but our main mission is to preach the kingdom of God.”